MINNEAPOLIS — Most people are probably eager to get back to what life was like before the pandemic. But it will be awhile longer before kids can get the COVID-19 vaccine. Which presents parents and guardians with an important question: What precautions should they continue to take with their unvaccinated children, even once they themselves are fully vaccinated?
"We have to remember you're as protected as your least protected person," said Patsy Stinchfield, Senior Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Children's Minnesota.
Stinchfield also is a liaison representative to the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
While the CDC says most children who get COVID-19 have mild symptoms or none at all, some do get sick. They also can spread it.
"There's several concerns," Stinchfield said. "Adults can and do bring the disease to children. Children much less so will bring the infection to unvaccinated adults. So the main thing is if grandma and grandpa are vaccinated, parents are vaccinated, and [you have] your household bubble of unvaccinated children, [if] you just have that gathering, that's about as safe as you can get if there's unvaccinated people."
Right now the CDC's guidelines say vaccinated people can get together indoors and without masks with unvaccinated people from a single household, as long as no one in the group is at a high risk for severe COVID-19.
"If you've got lots of unvaccinated people from lots of different families that gets to be less safe," Stinchfield said. "It really is a matter of looking at other people's vaccine status. Are they vaccinated? Have they just come from an international trip? Do they go to the local bar a lot and there's close up gathering?"
As far as vacations with unvaccinated children, if it's just with your household, Stinchfield says it's okay.
"I think there's choices you can make. You know, camping as a family, or a rental house as a family. I would not be too inclined to do large group gatherings again," she said.
Another factor: More infectious variants of the virus spreading in Minnesota.
"Who we're seeing [the variant-linked cases] in are younger people, because the older individuals are vaccinated," Stinchfield said. "We are just at a very precarious spot right now. I think kind of doing normal things would be for normal times and we're not back to normal yet."
As far as when kids could get vaccinated, earlier this week the Minnesota Department of Health said the vaccine could be available to them by the fall.